< SWITCH ME >

I'm not really a cosmo girl

Shanthi M. Blanchard

My first encounter with the magazine happened at 12 years of age, when I saw the movie 'Legally Blonde'. The heroine, Elle Woods, informed my adolescent self that the magazine was 'like, the bible,' for women. But between the cornucopias of candy-coloured pink, that bible was lacking some serious verses for me. Consequentally, I've often felt a bit left out of what it meant to be a modern woman.

cosmopolitan
Photo: "Malte Tiedemann"/ www.youthmedia.eu, CC-License(by-nc)
A drink, a magazine, and, apparently also an identity-creating 'bible' for women: the cosmopolitan.

This unsettled feeling was only made worse when my boy of the month, let's call him August, started listing all the reasons why Cosmo could be a really great, empowering magazine for women. He cited the magazine's emphasis on self-help for women's relationship issues, its tackling of tough topics like drug addiction, and how it exemplified ways for women to express themselves through fashion. I immediately countered this with examples of how the proper application of eyeliner did not equate to empowerment. Nor did images of women, photo-shopped down to sexually pleasing ideals, make me like my body more. Then he casually shrugged his shoulders and committed his final mistake by saying: "My ex-girlfriend is doing her PhD in gender this fall and she loves these magazines."

And there was my underlying fear exposed in the most pathetic way: the verification of my abnormality as a woman by the man I was dating through the use of his Elle Woods-like-but-feminist-ex-girlfriend representing the subset of normal.

Lets just say, August (the boy, not the month) ended early this year.

However, this didn't deter me from embracing the challenge. So, the next day I went to my trusted newspaper kiosk and bought stacks of popular glossies. Read on and find out what I and my two co-authors have to say about how magazines across Europe approach modern women...

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